All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing’ - Edmund Burke


S I E R R A  H E R A L D

Vol 8 No 4

The tendency sometimes to protect perpetrators for the sake of peace...doesn't help society. Impunity should not be allowed to stand. - Kofi Annan on Waki report

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Emmerson did much damage to his reputation as a person and a musician

Musician Emmerson Bockarie has released a new CD “Mi Yesterday Betteh Pass Tiday”. As I watched the media frenzy regarding the exercise of his freedom of speech, I said to myself, I should exercise mine as well. That has forced me to make this contribution. I must declare for the record that my children and I are fans of Emmerson, one among many of the most talented artists to ever emerge from the land that we all love, Sierra Leone. I am elated that there is much debate regarding Sierra Leonean artists and Mr. Emmerson Amidu Bockarie’s album. I cannot stress enough how most of us were hooked during the past decades and still hooked on foreign artists’ music at the turn of the century.

The hype surrounding this controversy particularly the single piece is due to something that people cannot simply explain without critical thinking and analysis. We are consciously or unconsciously reminded that Music is the only item that doesn’t require a passport and doesn’t recognize international boundaries. It sneaks into countries and immediately claims citizenship with no questions asked. Music is the only thing that God forgot to give blood and life. It calms us when we are depressed, when we are lonesome, and of course it does its best job when we are in our social mood. So it stands to reason that if a song’s lyrics carries a profane or negative message it reflect the artist’s thinking and his or her locale. But for the most part this new CD’s political component, ‘Mi Yesterday Betteh Pass Tiday’, is ever going to remain a drag on the SLPP’s rule of 1996-2007.

Music has a perpetual life: Garbage in and garbage out. The western nations which are the fathers of democracy and freedom of speech’s artists have respect for their women and their countries. Why do Africans (in general) who usually only imitate go overboard with ‘Freedom of Speech’ so much so that we lose track of our core values, our traditions and culture of respect for our elders, women and our nations?

I think, due to this new song, by Mr. Emmerson has done much damage to his reputation as a person and as a musician loved by Sierra Leoneans for what they think he represents as an artist. He has squandered some of the respect he has gained socially over the years. That’s my opinion.

Today we all know that nothing can stop Mr. Emmerson Bockarie in his quest to publicize and promote his ego and amass financial wealth. He, like we all, has the right to express his freedom of speech, but as an entertainment celebrity the expression of his freedom of speech has, in this instance, agitated a cross-section of Sierra Leoneans. He might be forgiven if he can prove that he was on planet Mars or Jupiter when the SLPP nose-dived our country to be last in every world statistic, including a failed state status.

Someone has to explain to Mr. Bockarie that six years ago, the world ’s economies were quite alive and robust, and it was that time that Sierra Leone’s economy collapsed due to corruption and embezzlement of taxes and foreign donations. It was only two years ago that the world economies really went downhill. And Sierra Leone which doesn’t produce petrol, rice and can’t manufacture a nail will be hardest hit.

Mr. Emmerson watched the Freetown refuse (Dotty) move from the dumpsters (Dotty Box) and cross the sidewalks into the streets. (I walked over them in 2006, and I know that he did too). He walked on the streets of the darkest African city. He drank well water. All that happened in his ’Yesterday Betteh’ capital city. (Sir Milton Margai and Sir Albert Margai eradicated wells from the city of Freetown-48 years ago).

The roads to the capital cities in the south were and are still in worse shape(Yesterday Betteh). For him not to see, feel or smell (even the Kabbah-Tiger Generators’ air pollution) still doesn’t mean that Emmerson is mentally bankrupt, but for sure something is terribly wrong with the thinking of the new politician on the block.

Mr. Emmerson Bockarie and his supporters see no reason for alarm for the above mentioned. He made no poetic lyrics and no songs to polarize these inhuman conditions he was living. The political musician kept his freedom of speech in a black box and shelved it. This article is not written out of malice but of concern over Emmerson exercise of his freedom of speech.

He has now joined the ranks of the anti-progress and anti-development critics. “Mi Yesterday Betteh Pass Tiday” serves him right and indeed some good came out of his declaration as a politician, because he came out of his camouflaged musician’s robe, and he is now fair game. Journalists can use the same yardstick they measure politicians’ activities. Journalists’ cameras are now focused on him up-close. He needed more publicity to promote his ego but has jumped into the right place as a politician, and heas been welcomed whole heartedly.

The news that he was in hiding was a publicity stunt to create sales. He was clever enough to deceive some journalists to headline their newspapers that the release was cancelled. He is a compatriot who only looks after what comes to his pocket regardless of what damage or negative image he subjects his country. Music teaches the following: Garbage in, Garbage out. Generations measure their lives’ achievements and age by it. People easily recall the exact period, but unfortunately while Mr. Emmerson was pointing one finger at the APC the rest were pointing at the SLPP. The CD is going to remind present and future generations that the period in question 1996-2007 was SLPP rule.

That was the period when there was no light, no tap water and the city was in an obnoxious state. That was when the price of petrol started rising to Le 16,000 per gallon and the price of rice per bag was Le 130,000 to name a few commodities whose prices started sky rocketing .

And above all our beautiful country became a failed state by international standards. Thus, the lyrics if anything achieved quite the opposite. Thus, if Mr. Emmerson Bockari’s decision to release the CD ‘Mi Yesterday Betteh Pass Tiday’ does have a political component what does it have?


Yearning for the mother country?

The right choice is Kevin McPhilips Travel

©Sierra Herald 2002